My earliest political memory is of Dr. King’s assassination. I was 7 years old. I didn’t understand the enormity or impact of his death. All I knew, as a child, using the adults’ sentiments as a barometer, was that the world we knew had changed, forever, and in some ways had remained the same; and that there were some in society who wanted the world to stay the same or not be too far removed from slavery and segregation.
As the son of a father born in the segregated South in 1926, a father who, despite his very young age, enlisted and served in the segregated U.S. Army during World War II, this history and struggle was alive in the life of my father who ended up in New York to escape the legacy of slavery, segregation, and to live a better life, that pursuit of a better life as proclaimed by the forefathers of this nation.
Dr. King’s assassination was one more death in a long line of deaths, even more evidence that the pursuit of those American ideals came with a price, that one simply couldn’t walk into a store with this promissory note and think that it would be honored; that the pursuit of liberty might even cost one his or her life.
As we remember and honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, we should not forget his enormous courage and steadfastness to the principles of nonviolence, that is, he was a man that proclaimed how he would fight this struggle, that it would be fought through the principles of non-violence, and he never wavered from those principles.
Today, with the upcoming presidential election in November, candidates proclaiming this and that should look at the life and legacy of Dr. King, his courage, his steadfastness, his belief that America could be better if everyone lived up to her ideals.